My last post was a little bit negative. I know that negativity breeds more negativity. But, part of being 30 means, I do not take shit. I’ve sort of starting invoking this idea and name over and over again. It reminds me of the beginning of a Fela Kuti song “you give me shit; I give you shit,” then a jumble of bass and drums and guitar, with horns churning to an afro-funk rhythm .
The thought of a Monday morning ahead of me breeds nervousness and anxiety. I have not prepared for my classes like I told myself I would. I have not finished all the things on my checklist and I am behind a little bit. Yes, I really need a vacation.
We can’t go away this summer. We are on a budget with a brief staycation. But, I am taking most of the summer off to write. I found a way to make money to support all this free time, or errr….it found me. And, now I have no excuses.
I am taking the summer. To finish up loose ends of a big project I have been working on. (If you must know, it’s my novel. I feel sort of poncey for even saying “my novel” at all.) Every time I think of it, I get nervous. I think: what will I do if it doesn’t work out? If I can’t finish? If I mess up? If I can’t pull through? If I disappoint myself. I know this is kind of crazythinking. It’s a small little piece of self-time that I have allowed myself. This post is all I, I, I. Sorry for the solipsism, but I am so close to finishing this project, I can taste it. And, why, then, does this scare me?
As an artist, sometimes the world can get you down. It seems like everything is geared toward making money and filling up all the empty spaces with things and consumerism and fast-track. Working and working and working, even if it is meaningful and usually fulfilling work, like teaching, can become a burden. People are always expecting things of me. I am always late on some project, or a batch of papers or a book order. There is always a really long to-do list that never gets totally done. Not to mention–the horrible realities of budget cuts, cut-throat jockeying for position of being a grad. student, then again as an adjunct professor, random firings of administrators, not to mention all the obligations brought about by engaging in protests, organizing and resistance against said budget cuts. Everything–even positive statements of community–like the budget cuts protests– drains my energy.
In my work life, I’ve tried to slowly build a sense of respect by doing my best and putting in some good old-fashioned hard work, and I’ve tried to be humble and learn my craft as a teacher. There was a time when I thought I would never, of all things in the world, become, in my life, world without end, a teacher. Maybe that’s what makes me one. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I chose this profession as a side to my writing. But at the same time, teaching has been good to me. It has kept me reading and discussing good books, it has given me something positive to bring to the world. It has kept me fed and clothed and it has given me a kind of small status in the world.
Sometimes teaching can get so big, so over-encompassing that it bubbles over and takes up my creative energies that I could be spending on making art. I am constantly nurturing others and not being nurtured by a teacher in my own writing. I am at a strange predicament in my career as a writer. I haven’t finished anything major yet, but I feel like I don’t benefit from being a student of writing anymore. But I know that if I don’t give up, I will finish. Soon. Soon. I keep saying soon.
It’s times like these when one needs to retreat and release and just draw inward towards self. I’m sure other teacher/writers know what I’m talking about. I know first hand that teaching can take over a person’s life.
At this point in the semester I feel like a hamster fiendishly running on a wheel. I want the rebirth of this blog to be the end of that. I need to let go. I don’t want my work as a teacher to consume me to the point where all my creative energy gets directed towards that. So, I am hereby stopping the flow. Creativity, I declare of you. Come back! Redirect yourself towards selfish navel-gazing wonderful internally focused craft of an artist. Flow like water to the part of the soul that must create something and don’t let the semester eat me away. Even if the rest of the world crumbles down around me, give me peace in my creative process so I can get this project done. Let the rest of the world around me not crumble down, give it strength, balance, and support. So I can enjoy myself and give myself up to the sensuous moment of creation, so that I can write till the sunset of my days.
To all my creative people: never give up on yourself or you art. Sing your song. Drum your drum. Life is only worth living if you can enjoy yourself along the way. Most of life is spent becoming.